Key Concepts and Principles of the Enneagram

Mon Feb 27 2023

This blog outlines the key idea of the Enneagram System.

The Enneagram is divided into nine distinct personality types, each with its own unique set of traits, strengths, and weaknesses.

There are 3 triads or centers of intelligence which relate to 3 core emotions with 3 personality types within each triad. Each Enneagram type is connected to 2 other enneagram types which describe how the Enneagram type thinks feels and behaves when in stress and comfort.

The Nine Personality Types

The Enneagram identifies nine distinct personality types, each represented by a number. These numbers are:

  1. The Perfectionist
  2. The Helper
  3. The Achiever
  4. The Individualist
  5. The Investigator
  6. The Loyalist
  7. The Enthusiast
  8. The Challenger
  9. The Peacemaker

Each of these types has a distinct worldview and set of behaviors, which are shaped by their core fears, desires, and motivations. By understanding these core motivations, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of their own behavior and how it impacts others.

The Centers of Intelligence

The Enneagram also identifies three centers of intelligence, which correspond to different aspects of the human experience. These centers are:

  1. The Gut Center: This center is associated with instinctual drives and survival. Individuals who are driven by this center tend to be action-oriented and focused on physical sensations. The core emotion associated with the gut center is anger and types 8, 9, and 1 are in it.

  2. The Heart Center: This center is associated with emotions and relationships. Individuals who are driven by this center tend to be sensitive to the feelings of others and place a high value on connection and relationships. The core emotion associated with the heart center is shame and types 2, 3, and 4 are in it.

  3. The Head Center: This center is associated with thinking and analysis. Individuals who are driven by this center tend to be logical and focused on problem-solving. The core emotion associated with the head center is fear and types 5, 6, and 7 are in it.

Instincts

In addition to the nine personality types and the three centers of intelligence, the Enneagram also identifies three instincts that drive human behavior. These instincts are:

  1. Self-preservation: This instinct drives individuals to take care of themselves and ensure their own survival. People driven by this instinct tend to focus on their own well-being and security.

  2. Social: This instinct drives individuals to connect with others and form strong relationships. People driven by this instinct tend to be social, outgoing, and focused on building connections with others.

  3. Sexual: This instinct drives individuals to seek intense experiences and deep connections with others. People driven by this instinct tend to be passionate and focused on physical intimacy and emotional connection.

Learn more about the subtypes here

Wings

The Enneagram also recognizes that individuals can exhibit traits of the personality types adjacent to their core type. These adjacent types are known as “wings” and can add depth and complexity to an individual’s personality. For example, an individual who identifies as a Type 2 Helper may exhibit traits of both Type 1 Perfectionist and Type 3 Achiever.

Connecting Lines

Finally, the Enneagram also recognizes that individuals may experience growth and stress in different ways, depending on their personality type. The system identifies connecting lines that link the nine personality types and show how individuals can move towards growth or stress. For example, a Type 5 Investigator may move towards growth by adopting traits of the Type 8 Challenger or towards stress by adopting traits of the Type 7 Enthusiast.

Time for the obligatory reminder that the Enneagram should be used as a tool. Helping individuals gain insight into their personality, motivations, and behavior patterns is a difficult task not to be taken lightly. However by understanding all the above, the nine types, the three centers of intelligence, the three instincts, wings, and connecting lines, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of themselves, others, and improve their relationships, and ultimately grow as people.




Type Characteristic role Ego fixation Holy idea Trap Basic fear Basic desire Temptation Vice/Passion Virtue Stress/ Disintegration Security/ Integration
1 Reformer, Perfectionist Resentment Perfection Perfection Corruptness, imbalance, being bad Goodness, integrity, balance Hypocrisy, hypercriticism Anger Serenity 4 7
2 Helper, Giver Flattery Freedom, Will Freedom Being unlovable To feel worthy of love Deny own needs, manipulation Pride Humility 8 4
3 Achiever, Performer Vanity Hope, Law Efficiency Worthlessness To feel valuable Pushing self to always be “the best” Deceit Truthfulness 9 6
4 Individualist, Romantic Melancholy Origin Authenticity Having no identity or significance To be uniquely themselves To overuse imagination in search of self Envy Equanimity (Emotional Balance) 2 1
5 Investigator, Observer Stinginess Omniscience, Transparency Observer Helplessness, incapability, incompetence Mastery, understanding Replacing direct experience with concepts Avarice Detachment 7 8
6 Loyalist, Loyal Skeptic Cowardice Faith Security Being without support or guidance To have support and guidance Indecision, doubt, seeking reassurance Fear Courage 3 9
7 Enthusiast, Epicure Planning Plan, Work, Wisdom Idealism Being unfulfilled, trapped, deprived To be satisfied and content Thinking fulfillment is somewhere else Gluttony Sobriety 1 5
8 Challenger, Protector Vengeance Truth Justice Being controlled, harmed, violated To gain influence and be self-sufficient Thinking they are completely self-sufficient Lust Innocence 5 2
9 Peacemaker, Mediator Indolence Love Seeker Loss, fragmentation, separation Wholeness, peace of mind Avoiding conflicts, avoiding self-assertion Sloth Action 6 3
From Wikipedia

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